Tail-sitting drones are becoming a common sight in the world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the important inherent capabilities offered. They can launch and land vertically while being able to travel horizontally, combining the best qualities of a rotary-based platform with that of a fixed-wing product. Swift Engineering, Incorporated has developed such a system through its Model 020.
Key qualities of the Model 020 are its all-electric drive and Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities. The former means a low-cost, low-emissions system while the latter allows this UAV to operate nearly anywhere. The aircraft has a swappable payload capacity of up to 1 kilogram and can fly for two hours up to 75 miles at altitudes of 400 feet. The Model 020 takes off vertically and can easily and quickly transition to horizontal flight - allowing it to operate in urban environments free of the requirement (and restrictions) of prepared runway spaces.
Structurally, the Model 020 exhibits a somewhat unique, yet wholly conventional, straight-wing arrangement. The fuselage is a slim, tubular shape tapered at both ends. At either end of center mass are two-bladed propeller units and each wing leading edge is also home to an additional two-bladed propeller units to help fulfill the VTOL requirement. Aft of each wing-mounted propeller section is a vertical tail fin which adds lateral control. The aircraft comes to rest on a two-legged undercarriage and carries a gimballed High-Definition (HD) camera and InfraRed (IR) camera unit with interchangeable lens as its primary optics fit. Communications is through a satellite link.
Power to the aircraft is all-electric and it can operate in all basic environments under full autonomy. The ground control system is a portable mobile unit, allowing for quick setup and takedown in-the-field - just 10 minutes is all that is needed - and the complete system breaks down into eight smaller components for transport. The Model 020 ships in two hard cases for maximum protection.
Beyond its obvious military applications, the Model 020 is marketed as suitable for the agricultural, parcel delivery, emergency services, humanitarian assistance, survey, maritime (coast guard, Search and Rescue) and research industries - such is its versatility.